VIJAYAWADA: Nearly 3.6 lakh first-time voters are missing their chance of exercising their franchise in the ensuing gram panchayat polls in Andhra Pradesh, state election commissioner (SEC) N. Ramesh Kumar has said.
Addressing a press conference while releasing the gram panchayat poll schedule here on Saturday, he maintained that though the State Election Commission wanted to adopt electoral rolls published on January 15, 2021, it was forced to hold elections as per the rolls published on January 1, 2019. This happened because the panchayat raj department failed to update its rolls with those who have completed 18 years of age, despite the SEC asking the department to do so.
The SEC maintained that though the state government had requested the State Election Commission to defer local body polls in wake of the case coming up for hearing before Supreme Court on Monday, he is going ahead with the polls as contestants and people are having high expectations on holding of the polls. He said he trusts that Chief Secretary and Director General of Police will extend their full cooperation in conducting the gram panchayat polls.
Maintaining that the SEC has no funds or manpower, Ramesh Kumar said the commission is still committed to conducting the elections, so that it can discharge its constitutional responsibility. He pointed out that this issue has already been brought to notice of the state government as well as judiciary.
Referring to objections being raised by a section of state employees on conduct of polls, the election commissioner pointed out that elections for local bodies and assemblies have been held in several states and are also scheduled to be organised in other states. It is thus not right to postpone elections, he underlined.
Expressing confidence that the state government will extend all support to SEC in holding the polls, he cautioned that in case it failed to do so, the state government will be solely held responsible. He asserted that it is his constitutional responsibility to conduct polls. Any difficulty in doing so will certainly be taken to the notice of Governor and the judiciary, he remarked.
On unanimous elections, the SEC said that they will keep a close watch on such phenomena.
Incidentally, though the SEC had called for a video conference with chief secretary, DGP, panchayat raj principal secretary and commissioner, district collectors, SPs and other officials at 3.00 p.m. on Saturday to discuss arrangements for conducting the polls, none of them logged in for the online conference....